Reopening New Jersey: Restaurant defies COVID restrictions, offers indoor dining

LACEY TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WABC) -- A restaurant in New Jersey is taking a stand against the state's pandemic restrictions.

The owner of the Lakeside Diner in Lacey Township has opened his doors to indoor dining, defying a state executive order.

The owner says he's doing what he needs for his family and business to survive.

Here is just a sliver modest taste of standing in another man's shoes.

"I've worked hard. I've worked 7 days a week, from early in the morning until late at night, for the last 30 years," Lakeside Diner owner Brian Brindisi said.

A man whose life and the livelihoods of his employees are poured into his diner in a year that a pandemic shut him down.

"My wife and I took a portion of our retirement out to help our employees to keep them going while we were shut down," Brindisi said.

So they reopened indoor dining at the Lakeside Diner at the corner of Lacey Road and Penn Avenue against the state's executive order allowing only outdoor dining, food pick up, and delivery.

"We took out some booths and we spaced them so that we'd have social distancing. We marked the floors, we marked the tables. When you come into our restaurant we take your temperature. We have a hands free sanitizer. We changed our menus, we have a five-page menu, we changed it into a one-page menu that gets sanitized after every time it goes to a table," Brindisi said.

Diners have been coming in support.

"Perfectly fine, safe with all safety precautions, sterilization cleaning everything," a customer said.

"He's actually doing a service to the community by allowing seniors to come out, families to come out with no worries," another said.

Since reopening Lakeside Diner has been hit with 10 violations.

"Steps are being taken to effectuate that court order to keep indoor dining closed. It's nothing that we really take pleasure in," New Jersey State Police SuperintendantCol. Pat Callahan said.

Overnight, sheriff's deputies changed the locks and ordered the diner closed.

But again this is a man, a Navy veteran, whose only means of economic survival hinges on his business.

"I'm taking this virus seriously, but on the other hand, I'm also taking my business seriously. Make us the model for inside dining, see what we're doing," Brindisi said.

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